The Smiths A-Z: "Miserable Lie"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member









Next up in our Smiths A-Z project is this song from the debut album of 1984.

The song was played live 103 times by the Smiths. It has never been performed by Morrissey.

What do we think?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
The Troy Tate version is way better than the released take. The John Porter version released on the album is a bit of a mess - the drums are overbearingly loud, Marr’s guitar sounds tinny and indistinct etc. When people criticise the production of the first album, it’s probably this track in particular they have in mind
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
Notable live version:
Derby Assembly Rooms, December 6, 1983.
Morrissey gets hit in the face with a flying flower, leaves the stage with the band still playing and returns in time for an amazing "I need advice...".
Not the best of gigs, but memorable version of the song.
Regards,
FWD.
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
It's one of the group's rare songs that clearly doesn't work.

Morrissey's singing style hadn't developed enough for him to attempt the falsetto, and the rock sections of the song all sound a little puny.

The Troy Tate version has a mildly likeable indie feel to it, but it's still by no means a good recording.

They probably should have consigned it to b-side status.


Just to show other viewpoints and not because they should be considered in any way definitive...

In the poll on this board this song ranked 63rd from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 67th from 73 of the group's songs.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
The song was played live 103 times by the Smiths. It has never been performed by Morrissey.

What do we think?

I think this is an obscure and forgotten song, as far as the general public are concerned (even non-Smiths/Morrissey fans probably know, for example, 'Panic', 'This Charming Man' and 'The Boy with the Thorn In His Side'), but in its day it got pretty heavy exposure via live shows and tv spots. I'd say it was more the combination of this song and 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' that got the Smiths saddled with the 'miserable' tag.

It's a lame song anyway, never understood their affection for it, still less why it should be a show closer.
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always
I think the recording fails it a bit, not the song itself.

our live fire brand Miserable Lie is choked to death and boxed in when it had always up to this point detonated as a step by step incline crowned by a yowling falsetto - all of this lost in John’s production, which pulls the song back to a plod and makes the falsetto sound breathless and futile.’ - Morrissey

Having been played live often, I imagine the song may have been too personally important to be assigned to a b-side, with Morrissey making sure it was on the album. For me it works, it’s subject matter thematic to the rest of the album as a whole.

Maybe a Russell Mael inspired vocal hysterics at the end there(?)

It’s epic.


In a short Q&A with Nico’s manager Alan Wise, Alan mentioned a hotel in Manchester…



‘N: There must have been something about Nico that made you want to be act like this …..to be valiant?

A: I liked her instantly I thought she was a very interesting character. I only got involved in entertainment to meet interesting characters. She was strong but vulnerable, bright, charming. I found her somewhere to live, she’d been touring but she liked Manchester because of the Victorian architecture. Initially she was staying in a Polish hotel in Whalley Range (what do you get for your trouble and pain?) the Polex owned by a war hero, it was very cheap, she didn’t have much money. After that, she came to live in Didsbury with me, only briefly, then she moved to the other side of Manchester, a beautiful area called Prestwich Park (house was called Moresby) it was Victorian.’ - Alan Wise




Which made me think, was this ‘rented room’ at the Polex ? where Morrissey attempted and failed miserably to become an adult and live on his own with Linder? Linder use to live downstairs from Nico at one point.

And is Linder the ‘wonderful woman’ that Morrissey followed ‘into the depths of the criminal world’? Or was it Nico that he was fan stalking? lol, or both? or none? probably the latter.

Also, like a lot of his songs, I believe that the person sung about in a song is not always one person but a conglomeration of different people or experiences.
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
Miserable Lie was the 3rd most played Smiths live track from The Haçienda '83 - Brixton '86.
For those of us listening via May's Peel and then seeing live... well, it was new & novel. There wasn't a slew of artists doing falsetto breaks after a slow build in to a rockier ending and it appeared well received live at the time.
Hindsight...
Regards,
FWD.

Edit: it would still probably be 3rd even if the missing gig information was complete and known.
 

everydayslikesunday

Junior Member
I can't understand why this song seems to be unliked, personally I love it. Not my favourite Smiths track but it definitely would be on my 'best of' compilation.
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
The soft introduction reminds me of The hand that rocks the crade, then it explodes into complete catharsis, venting anger and desperation. The lack of vocal harmony bothers me, and it is easily a minute too long. It is the most unexpected song of that first album. Lyrically, it seemed important at the time.
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
The soft introduction reminds me of The hand that rocks the crade, then it explodes into complete catharsis, venting anger and desperation. The lack of vocal harmony bothers me, and it is easily a minute too long. It is the most unexpected song of that first album. Lyrically, it seemed important at the time.
Yes, totally! "I need advice, I need advice / Nobody ever looks at me twice" in particular resonated with me, as an outstandingly unattractive 14-year-old.
 

TheSmiths_1985

Moved to off-topic
One of the few songs from the debut that I still listen to.
The way he sings the “I‘m just a country mile…” bit always raises a smile.
 

Carlislebaz

Cock of the north
This song is probably the most underrated of all their songs.
And probably the words mean so much to Morrissey, as it’s his first time away from his family home.

I just love his words on this song...

“The dark nights are drawing in
And your humour is as black as them”
The words about people’s underwear ECT is Morrissey at his very best ...... Classic lyrics that just strengthen as the song evolves.

The constant whaling for a minute or so towards the end of the song,
Proves that his vocal melodies just added more depth, feeling, and natural pain and also proved his emerging thunderous live singing
Voice .....

10/10
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
Yes, totally! "I need advice, I need advice / Nobody ever looks at me twice" in particular resonated with me, as an outstandingly unattractive 14-year-old.
Yes, that’s a great one-liner that anyone losging for attention can relate to.
I also see it as a song about his first love and first time living away from home, and I also love that sentence
You have destroyed my flouer-like life
because that’s how I think of my youthful years.
 
"I know the windswept mystical air/it means I'd like to see your underwear" is brilliant, cynical and knowing and funny and art-bullshit-puncturing.

'I’m really ready to be burned at the stake in total defence of that record. It means so much to me that I could never explain, however long you gave me. It becomes almost difficult and one is just simply swamped in emotion about the whole thing.' - Morrissey on Miserable Lie, 1984.
 
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